The picturesque city of Dusseldorf, in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen—which shares a border with the Netherlands—is easily the top destination for tourists who want to sample a bit of western Germany in addition to their Netherlands itinerary. At just about 145 miles from Amsterdam, it's also the closest major German city east of the border, and conveniently accessible both by road and by rail. It's close enough that you could even make it a day trip if you leave early enough, but Dusseldorf is worth spending at least a night if you have the time.
The most convenient way for traveling to Dusseldorf is by rail on the outstanding German high-speed train. It's a fast trip and often very affordable, bringing passengers directly from city center to city center. If you didn't plan ahead and train tickets get too expensive, you can often save money by taking the bus, which is only about an hour longer than the train. For the ultimate flexibility, go ahead and rent a car and drive yourself while exploring the cute Dutch and German villages along the way. You can take a direct flight, as well, but it's very expensive and in the end not any faster.
How to Get from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf
|Train||2 hours, 8 minutes||from $22||Fast and affordable travel|
|Bus||3 hours||from $18||Last-minute plans|
|Flight||50 minutes||from $142|
|Car||2 hours, 30 minutes||145 miles (232 kilometers)||Exploring the area|
Direct trains between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf are frequent and affordable, with fares from 19 euros, or about $22, for a one-way ticket on the InterCity Express (ICE), Germany's premier high-speed train. The ICE is considered one of Europe's most comfortable trains, and the two-hour route from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf runs along the banks of the Rhine River. Tickets do get more expensive as the travel date gets closer and tickets sell out, so don't delay in buying them if you already know your plans. However, if you are flexible with your departure date and time, you can usually find affordable tickets even at the last minute.
The easiest way to see the train schedule and make a reservation is through Deutsche Bahn, the German railway service. The website is in English and easy to use, but pay attention to the number of stopovers before finalizing your purchase; several routes require more than one change of trains, so keep an eye out for the direct ones.
Both train stations—Amsterdam Centraal and Düsseldorf Hbf—are centrally located in their respective cities and easily accessible from the rest of the city, often on foot.
The ever-popular choice of transport for travelers on a budget, the company Flixbus provides several daily buses from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf. The trip takes about three hours without transfers, so it really isn't much more time-consuming than the train. However, it isn't much cheaper than the train either. Bus fares start at around $18, so you're only saving a few dollars but spending an extra hour in transit, and the bus isn't as comfortable as the train. But if you're making very last-minute plans and the train prices have soared, then the bus makes a great back-up plan.
In Amsterdam, Flixbus picks up from Sloterdijk station north of the city center, which is an eight-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal. In Dusseldorf, the bus drops off directly at the main train station, Düsseldorf Hbf.
The 145-mile drive between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf takes around two hours, 30 minutes, and is an ideal option for travelers who want the flexibility to stop and explore on the journey. You have a few different routes you can choose from, and all of them take roughly the same amount of time. You don't have to worry about tolls when driving from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf, or even border control. Even though you are technically crossing an international border from the Netherlands, both countries are a part of the Schengen Agreement, which allows for border-free transit. You won't have to deal with long lines or passport checks, and the only way you'll even know that you've entered Germany is by the bright blue sign that simply says, "Bundesrepublik Deutschland."
If you're renting a car and not planning to return to Amsterdam, don't forget that rental companies often charge hefty fees for picking up a car in one country and dropping it off in another.
KLM offers direct flights from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf and the total flight time is under an hour. However, they are typically much more expensive than all of the other options, and once you factor in the time it takes to get to the airport, check-in, go through security, and wait at your gate, going by plane takes much longer than the train—and maybe even the bus.
What to See in Dusseldorf
As one of the most populous cities in Germany, Dusseldorf has its share of metropolitan amenities but also features the historic city center, the Altstadt, densely filled with bars and restaurants that peddle typical Northern German cuisine as well as the city's famous beer, Altbier. A center of both economy and the arts, the multifaceted city pleases travelers of all stripes with sites for culture and entertainment abound, such as the renowned Kunsthalle and the famous "Kö," a must-see street for luxury shoppers. Some traveler favorites of the city's attractions are its diverse architecture, such as the historic Kaiserswerth district—which dates to the year 700—and the modern architecture of the MedienHafen (Media Harbor) quarter. For a decidedly non-German taste of Dusseldorf, check out the concentration of Japanese restaurants on Immermannstraße, a token of the city's expansive Japanese community.